Lorenzo Romar is known as a man of faith in many realms—but there was a time on the cusp of his career when it appeared that his faith was ill founded.
Romar is the coach of the University of Washington men’s basketball team. This season his team started off ranked first in the conference but they experienced their share of troubles on and off the court and finished the regular season 20-10. His faith was rewarded last Saturday though when the Huskies won the Pac-10 tournament in overtime on a last second basket.
Lorenzo is also known as a man of faith in Jesus Christ. For seven years he played and coached basketball for Athletes in Action, a Christian sports ministry. As an assistant coach at UCLA he helped inspire many of the players on that team to gather on center court and kneel in prayer immediately after they won the 1995 NCAA Championship. An inspiring and public display of faith.
But in high school he was cut by both his varsity and junior varsity basketball teams and didn’t earn his way back on the team until his senior season. He was an unlikely candidate to play at the division one level. But after two years at a junior college he was picked up by coach Marv Harshman of the Washington Huskies, who was in town to look at a different player. He started both years with the team and served as team captain his senior year. In 1980 the Golden State Warriors drafted him in the seventh round.
It’s then that Romar’s faith in his ability to play basketball at the NBA level seemed to be just a dream. He worked hard through training camp, but frankly, the 141st pick in the draft just doesn’t make the team. As camp progressed more and more players were released until it was time to make the final cut.
The coach instructed the team to be in their rooms that night with their playbooks. One more player still needed to be cut and they would get the word that night after the coaches met.
Lorenzo must have been pleased to be an unheralded player who had made it that far. I heard him relate the story once and it went something like this:
The call came that night from one of the assistant coaches.
“Lorenzo, you’ve had a good camp. We like the way you work and hustle. We’ve been impressed.”
“But, you know we have to cut one more guy… .” Another pause. Probably the longest one in Romar’s life.
Finally he concluded, “But it’s not you so be at practice in the morning.” Click.
Funny guy. Maybe he worked the comedy clubs when he wasn’t coaching.
Romar went on to play five seasons in the NBA and is in his ninth season as the head coach of the Huskies. He is respected as a genuine and optimistic person and was once voted “the opposing coach players would most like to play for” in a Pac-10 poll. And, he’s truly a man of faith.